Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Leonid Bershidsky

Germany Shouldn’t Rush to Abandon Coal

A plan to end the use of the fuel by 2038 doesn’t please businesses or environmentalists.

On the way out.

On the way out.

Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Policy decisions about climate change are among the toughest a government can make: Any change in direction is practically guaranteed to displease the stakeholders. A commission set up by the German government to work out how the country will phase out coal called for ending the fuel’s use by 2038. Energy companies, labor unions and environmentalists are all unhappy.

The Growth, Structural Change and Employment Commission, known simply as the Coal Commission, announced its plan on Jan. 27. Its report came in at 335 pages, and not just because German policy documents tend to be long and detailed: Much space is needed to address all the conflicting interests on an issue that’s critical to German leadership in clean energy.